Chocolate in moderation has proven to be healthy for people, especially dark chocolate. It contains good sources of fiber, magnesium, and antioxidants. I became curious as to whether or not it was also healthy if consumed by dogs. My own dog consumed an entire bag of Hershey kisses and was not at all harmed. It was to my family and I’s surprise because we had so often heard how toxic it can be to them. Whether this was by mere chance or if chocolate really does have no effect on dogs is the ultimate question.
Chocolate is in fact considered to be poisonous to canines, and it is a very urgent matter if they consume it. The effects that chocolate can have on them are extensive. More than likely they will immediately throw up, but if they do not the vet will give the dog medication to do so. It is important to try to get as much of the chocolate out of the system as possible. Throwing up is also an indication that the dog did indeed have chocolate. Other symptoms may include extreme thirst, excessive energy, pacing, panting, shaking, and seizures. These may occur up to 6-12 hours after the consumption so if there is any chance that the dog consumed chocolate the vet should be consulted immediately. Not only will the vets use apomorphine to force the vomiting, but they will also pump the stomach to flush it with fluids, and use a certain medication to stop the chocolate from entering into the bloodstream.
The part of the chocolate that is harmful to dogs is known as theobromine. It is a type of stimulant similar to caffeine. It stimulates the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and can cause an increase in blood pressure. Humans and dogs have different body systems, and ours allow us to easily metabolize this component in chocolate. For dogs however, it takes a lot longer and can result in the stimulant building up to toxic levels. How poisonous the chocolate will be to a dog depends on the pet’s size, the amount consumed, and the type. As one would expect, large dogs can consume a larger amount than small dogs before experiencing any effects. If only a small amount is consumed, usually the dog will only suffer from vomiting. On the contrary, large amounts of theobromine in the system can produce anything from muscle tremors to severe internal bleeding or a heart attack. Dogs that are older in age may suffer fatal consequences because they are unable to handle the effects that theobromine has on the body. For humans, dark chocolate is deemed to be the healthiest type yet for dogs dark chocolate and cocoa contain the highest levels of theobromine. Milk and white chocolate have the lowest.
To conclude, the consumption of chocolate is indeed considered to be poisonous to canines. It contains the stimulant known as theobromine which is unable to be metabolized thoroughly and quickly enough before reaching toxic levels. The effects will vary depending on the type of chocolate, the amount consumed, the size of the dog, and the age. However, it is for certain that if a dog consumes chocolate the vet should be contacted immediately to try to resolve the issue as fast and efficiently as possible. My dog consumed Hershey’s milk chocolate which already has a smaller quantity of theobromine. Although he had a relatively large amount, my dog was a large golden retriever and able to withstand more than a smaller dog would have. It was more than likely by chance that he survived without suffering any consequences at all. Next time, we may not be so fortunate so I will follow through with the proper medical treatment.